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Special Event: Mural Unveiling
“OUR JOURNEY HOME” MURAL UNVEILED AT NORTH SHORE ANIMAL LEAGUE AMERICA
Students at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens create their largest mural to date to greet adopters at Animal League’s family waiting room
The upbeat sounds of Martin Van Buren High School’s Drumline—along with some festive barking from canines in the crowd—filled the air at North Shore Animal League America on Monday, June 11, 2012, as the school’s Mural Club unveiled “Our Journey Home,” a beautiful work of art that represents the journey of shelter pets, otherwise known as Mutt-i-grees®, from rescue all the way to their permanent and loving homes.
A large crowd of teachers, students and proud parents joined Animal League staff and volunteers at the official unveiling of the mural, now displayed in its permanent home in the Animal League’s family waiting room. The colorful piece depicts scenes of happy adopters along with shelter dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, all waiting to make the Journey Home.
Toni Mancini, English teacher and founder of the Martin Van Buren High School Humane Club, was a volunteer at the Animal League when she was a 16-year-old, and says the experience had a profound and lasting impact on her. She developed a keen awareness of the wonderful qualities of shelter animals—a passion she shares with her students.
“Now, 11 years after I volunteered at North Shore Animal League [America], I’m working with my 16-year-old students and encouraging them to spread awareness of animal cruelty and the beauty of adoption,” says Mancini, proudly noting that she calls Martin Van Buren High School a "Mutt-i-grees School."
Each year the Mural Club creates one mural to be displayed in their school and a second mural to be donated to better the community. After a February visit to North Shore Animal League, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, the students found their inspiration.
These dedicated high schoolers spent every lunch hour for five months working on the mural, expecting nothing in return but the satisfaction of creating something beautiful that will make a difference in the lives of others. The final design is an impressive 8’X12’ mural divided into three panels, each representing the mission of the Animal League: rescue, nurture and adopt.
Art teacher and Mural Club Advisor Lisa Hitchcock told the crowd she adopted her very first pet—a cat named Lizzie—nearly 30 years ago from the Animal League.
When Hitchcock was looking for a theme for this year’s mural, a coworker suggested she speak with Mancini. “When she mentioned the idea of doing a piece for the Animal League, I knew it was perfect,” says Hitchcock. “The organization has brought such joy to my family, and many others, over the years.”
In addition to the Mural Club’s work, students at Martin Van Buren have participated in a variety of projects to benefit animals, including writing stories that give voice to shelter animals and creating posters to spread awareness of puppy mills, inhumane commercial breeding operations. They’ve also raised money to trap a local feral cat and have her spayed and released.
The unveiling ceremony also included a special solo violin performance by Devel Miles, a senior at Martin Van Buren, and a speech by freshman muralist Sunbul Sabir, who said, “The mural shows our gratitude for all that North Shore Animal League does for the animal kingdom.”
Joanne Yohannan, Senior VP of Operations at the Animal League, was thrilled with the students’ work and their dedication to the cause of animal welfare. “Sadly, 4 million to 5 million animals are euthanized in shelters each year,” said Yohannan. “Our goal is to continue to set the standard for the no-kill movement, because we believe there is a home for every animal and the mural really celebrates the idea of rescue, nurture and adopt.”
To visit “Our Journey Home,” come to North Shore Animal League America’s headquarters in Port Washington, NY. For directions and hours, click here. And while you’re here, please consider adopting one of the wonderful Mutt-i-grees who are waiting for a loving home.